Over the next few months, the American Heart Association will be working along with Widener University to improve access to healthy foods in the city of Chester. We believe that every Chester resident should be able to easily acquire fresh, nutritious foods for themselves and their families. With that in mind, the AHA will be working closely with partners at Widener to make positive changes to food pantries in the Chester area. We will visit several food pantries in the community and conduct interviews with staff and visitors about the day-to-day operations of the food pantry. The AHA will also conduct a nutritional survey of the food and beverages that are currently available at several Chester food pantries. From our initial interviews and nutritional survey, we want to work with the food pantries to identify possible areas of improvement, and then work together to reach these goals. Possible changes that could be made include new marketing for the pantries, reorganizing the pantry environment, and working with pantries to make sure healthy food options are easily accessible.
A major goal of the American Heart Association for this project is to implement a healthy labeling system within several local pantries. The healthy labeling system would place an easy to read symbol or logo next to foods that are nutritious and heart healthy, such as produce and whole grain foods. Offering a healthy labeling system will assist individuals with dietary restrictions in identifying appropriate foods as well as helping all visitors to the food pantry select healthy options. The AHA and Widener University also aim to set up a day for free blood pressure screenings at local pantry. We will be reporting on positive developments within the food pantries through this monthly blog, and hope that you will be seeing some of these changes for yourself soon!